The blog formerly known as The Dobbs Method

Twitter vs. Texting: Upping the Ante

Posted in Culture, Technology by Taylor Dobbs on 03/25/2009

As my previous posts may suggest, I’m a twitter user (tweeter?). The other day, as I eagerly hit “refresh” on my twitter homepage hoping for some new material, a new post came up from (awesome) journalist Clive Thompson and made me think. For those of you who didn’t click, the post said that twitter is teaching millions of people to become very good at “print-headline-writing” skills. This is true. America and the world is becoming ridiculously good at cramming information into small blocks of text.

In seventh grade, I got my first cell phone. Calling people was cool, sure. But why call when I could send a text message (yes, it was still amazing back then – I feel old)? These handy text messages were generous: one-hundred sixty characters of enlighentment for whoever may recieve it. Over the years, I’ve learned to cram as much as I can into that little limit. I’ve written everything from tiny love letters to directions to my house (seven miles from the nearest heartbeat). “Hav u seen my shoes? I thnk i lft thm @ ur plc,” is a text I might send. What I find interesting is the different methods for compression into this uber-small form used in the different methods.

In texting, it’s completely acceptable to drop a letter or two from a word, leaving a ragged message resembling my second-grade homework. On  twitter, however, it seems as though this isn’t as widely accepted. People want full words. I’ve seen more instances where people simply don’t finish a sentence than ones using “u” instead of “you” or other such shortcuts.

What does this mean for the english language? A study has already emerged linking texting to superior reading skills in young people. Twitter’s full-word form doesn’t force the mind to work so hard to decypher words though. So what will happen with twitter? My bet is that in trying to pack in the information while using complete words, vocabularies are going to go through the roof – especially in the “short words” department. Is this a good thing? We’ll see. I don’t know if it will dramatically effect speech conversations, but I wouldn’t be altogether surprised if I began recieving sum vry intlignt txt msgs.


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  1. […] will you do when your professor uses it in class and you still don’t know how to tweet well (it’s not as simple as texting)? Whether you join it or not, Twitter is not going away any time soon, and it’s only getting […]

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